Wednesday 18 October 2017

Isis burns thousands of rare books and manuscripts from Mosul's libraries

Rose Troup Buchanan

Isis militants have reportedly ransacked libraries throughout northern Iraq, burning over a hundred thousand rare manuscripts and documents spanning centuries of Iraqi history.

Initial reports said approximately 8,000 books were destroyed by the extremist group when they raided the public library in Mosul, the largest city they currently hold.

However, fresh reports are coming out of the city in northern Iraq that say as many as 112, 709 manuscripts and books, some of which were registered on with the UNESCO's rarities list, were set alight in a mass public burning.

Isis militants are believed to have forced their way into the city's public library, which was being protected by local people, and constructed a huge pyre of scientific and cultural texts.

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University students and others were then made watched as the group set it alight.

Among the documents believed lost are a collection of Iraqi newspapers from the beginning of the 20 century, maps, books and collections from the Ottoman period.

Following the public burning, Isis then demolished the library using explosives.

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This is the second time in recently memory that the Mosul public library has been destroyed.

In 2003, during the second US invasion of Iraq, it was reduced to rubble during the fighting.

Many of its precious volumes were taken and hidden by locals in their homes at the time – and were returned once the fighting had stopped.

Mosul resident Rayan al-Hadidi said a mood of sorrow and anger had now overtaken the city.

"I cry today over our situation," the activist and a blogger said.

A University of Mosul history professor told the Associated Press that the extremists had begun destroying the library – established in 1921 and symbolic of the birth of modern Iraq – earlier this month.

He claimed Isis members had also inflicted particularly severe damage to the Sunni Muslim library, the library of the 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and the Mosul Museum Library – which contained manuscripts dating back to 5000BC.

Reuters

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